Stellies Tri Squad
We chat to the Stellenbosch Triathlon Squad which is boasting an impressive 100% success rate for members tackling Robben Island.
Squad head coach Vicky van der Merwe says that the Squad have had around 60 members complete an island crossing. Most recently, a group of 20 members notched up some really fast times in a swim that included four siblings.
“We were a group of 20 swimmers and conditions were really good for some fast times. Our fastest swimmer on the day was Nikhil Mehta (the youngest of the four Mehta siblings) – 1h46min17sec in a wetsuit closely followed by our two skins swimmers Andrea Mason and Vernon Visser in 1h48min40 . Iain Peddle (wetsuit) and Anneke Boshoff (skins) also had great swims on the day coming in in 1h59min57 and 2h.”
Vicky says that she has met some inspiration athletes. “Another inspirational story to me was Werner Botha, who went from NEVER SWIMMING IN HIS LIFE to joining STS in August and completing the crossing in 3h17min on the 1st of December. I still remember his first lesson – zero fitness and very little technique- and thinking: “This is going to be a big ask!”. But him and his training partner Donna Hornigold (who also completed the crossing in 3h08) put their heads down, committed to the training and did it!!! His parents couldn’t believe it!
“Then there are mothers like Marga Kannenberg who juggle work, kids and training who I have so much respect for. Her family was waiting for her on the beach and her mother just burst out in tears!”
Vicky says that many of the swims have been in tough conditions. “The Robben Island Swim crossing is such a special and memorable event. For most of our swimmers or Triathletes it’s a bucket-list event and a great goal to work towards, although for some- like Andrea, Anneke, Vernon, Jocelyn- it’s more part of training.
STS (Stellenbosch Triathlon Squad) is based in Stellenbosch. They cater for Triathletes as well as for swimmers, cyclists and runners. “We have an awesome swimming group that ranges from beginners to serious swimmers. We also do one on one sessions for those very new to swimming,” says Vicky.